As I See it on the Land – June 2021

Relief at last. All through April we worried about the extremely dry weather. I only recorded 3mm of rain in the month. Cracks were opening in the arable fields just like harvest time. In the last two weeks all has changed. The ground is now moist, whilst weeds and late sown crops are germinating and growing at speed. Hopefully our spring sown linseed will soon be visible, having been sown into dry soil.

I have been disappointed by the lack of pods on the oilseed rape. The frost stopped them developing, together with a lack of insects to pollinate. I think at least a third of the early pods are missing. Mark tries to cheer me up by saying the plants will compensate by having larger seeds in the pods that survive.

All the fertiliser has now been applied to the wheat crops. The wetter weather is likely to make conditions for disease to flourish so the sprayer will no doubt have to apply some fungicide.

Those farmers who conserve grass by making it into silage will hope for a break in the sporadic showers. The grass needs to be cut and allowed to wilt for a day before it is blown into trailers and taken back to the farm and clamped. The alternative is to put the grass into large plastic bales. The crops I see are just about ready to be mown. The blackgrass growing in amongst the grass is getting close to seeding and if mowing gets delayed one of the reasons for growing a break crop will be lost.

My wildlife observations are all rather gloomy this month. I have not seen a single baby moorhen, duck or swan. Insects seem scarce on the water. A pair of swans nesting in the ditch along Marsh road seemed to lose their fresh egg on a daily basis. Did someone have a large omelette each day, or what removed the egg?

A magpie has been having a field day finding nests and eating eggs. Pheasant eggs, duck eggs, blackbird and thrush eggs seem to be scattered around the edges of the field and around the farm yard.

The cold throughout April has made for a late spring which has reduced the availability of insects and food on hedgerows etc. At least the rain has made foraging for food easier on the ground.

Briefly saw more swallows on the 25th but they moved on the next day. A cuckoo has arrived and is now resident in the area. A barn owl is seen almost daily hunting out over the hay/silage fields. How it ever sees or hears its prey in such long grass I will never understand. It’s keeping my caravanners amused. We hope that we may have residents in one of our owl boxes but will not know until eggs are hatched and the young are being fed.

Peter Sillibourne